The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has strongly condemned the detention of the Africa Independent Television (AIT) journalist-cum-presenter, Amaechi Anakwe on the orders of Assistant Inspector General of Police in Abuja, Mbu Joseph Mbu, warning that “we shall resist any attempt to gag the press or harass any one going about their lawful duty in a peaceful and lawful manner”.
NLC, in the statement signed by its General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo- Eson, said “It is too soon to forget that the media played a leading role in securing the fourth republic for Nigerians. That task was not accomplished by playing the lapdog of everyone”.
While recalling that Mbu said, “The offence of Anakwe is that he had referred to Mbu as “controversial”, which in our view is neither derogatory nor libelous. Even if the word or sentence were otherwise, there are lawful channels of redress. Mbu cannot be judge and prosecutor in his own case,” the congress asserted, stressing that “Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to which we are all answerable in spite of our station in life”.
It argued that “the arrest and detention of Anakwe is therefore a calculated attempt to muzzle the press and free speech in the democracy. And it does not appear to be an isolated case as a few months earlier, this same Mbu violently broke up the Bring-Back-the -Chibok- Girls Campaign on the basis of a non-existent law, drawing international condemnation of the government.
“His (Mr. Mbu’s) antecedents in Rivers State from where he was deployed to Abuja are not less sinister. Rather than receive a reprimand, Mbu was rewarded with a choice posting and promotion, with not a few speculating that he is being positioned to be IGP,” the congress added.
NLC further recalled “A few weeks ago, a chest- thumping Mbu had boasted at his hand-over ceremony that he was “the lion that tamed the tiger of Rivers State.
The umbrella labour union explained that it is expedient to “Sound a note of caution on Mr Mbu. His above-the-law attitude to the work of law enforcement gives him out as one that is more inclined to promoting anarchy than the rule of law”.
According to the NLC, “He (Mbu) does not seem to represent the mainstream 21st century police, if his routine primitive, partisan and primordial outbursts are anything to go by. He is a serial embarrassment to the Police Force we need,” stressing that what Nigeria needs “is a Police Force that is concerned with public good, law, order and justice. We doubt Mbu is in the right company”.
Also, for failing to adhere strictly with the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill recently signed into law by the legislature and the executive, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called for severe sanctions against the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 7, Division, Joseph Mbu, for illegal arrest, detention and charging to court Mr. Amaechi Anakwe last week.
Addressing the media yesterday in Abuja, the NUJ President, Mohammed Garuba, said that the union views the action as an affront to the freedom of expression as well as freedom of the press which runs contrarily to the FOI Act just passed into law.
He, therefore, requested the police authorities to sanction Mbu, including sacking him from the Nigerian police.
“Although the case has been withdrawn by the police and Mbu, the NUJ has officially written to the Acting Inspector-General of Police and the Police Service Commission to ensure that Mbu is punished for such an evil act against our colleague. Thank God that organisations like the NBA, NMA and civil society groups has equally joined the media to call for the sack of Mbu.”
Garuba stated that the NUJ will not allow the matter to be swept under the carpet for whatever reason.
“We have written to the acting inspector-general of police, we have also written to the Police Service Commission to ensure that Mbu is punished accordingly.”
The NUJ president explained that the union expects the police to partner the media to ensure that insecurity, kidnappings and killings are brought to a halt rather than engaging in unnecessary arrest of innocent journalists.
He said NUJ is confident that the acting Inspector-General of Police would ensure justice in the matter.
“He is an officer of proven integrity, he has been ensuring a cordial relationship with the media at every position he has held up till now. We believe he will do the right thing.”
Garuba added that should the police authorities fail to act accordingly, the union will have no option than to embark on mass protest and strikes in Abuja.
Similarly, some senior lawyers and civil society organisations in the country have called for Mbu’s sack.
Nigerians from all walks of life have expressed disgust over the many infractions committed by Mbu.
Among them are two distinguished legal practitioners and Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, Itse Sagay and Mike Ozekhome.
In separate interviews yesterday, the duo condemned Mbu’s ill treatment of Anakwe in the strongest of terms.
Similarly, a Port Harcourt-based civil society group, Doing Democracy Movement-Nigeria (DDM-N), has invited well-meaning Nigerians to join the campaign to get Mbu out of the Nigeria Police.
The DDM-N’s Convener, Anyakwee Nsirimovu, made this known in Port Harcourt while speaking with newsmen on the controversial arrest of the broadcast journalist.
Anakwe had described Mbu as “controversial” during an interview programme on the AIT and was subsequently arrested, detained and prosecuted on the orders of the AIG.
31 States Lack Insurance Cover For Workers
Thirty-one states in the federation have no insurance cover in place for workers as of March, despite the provision of the requirement in the Pension Reform Act 2014.
Figures obtained from PenCom on ‘Status of implementation of the CPS in states as at March 2021’, last Saturday, showed that only five states, including the Federal Capital Territory, have insurance in place for their workers.
Other compliant states are Lagos, Osun, Ondo and Edo, which also have pension schemes for their workers, according to PenCom.
A former President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele, said it was not appropriate that most states lacked insurance cover for their workers.
Esele stated, “It speaks volumes to the fact that when the private sector has not shown respect for group life insurance, they are actually borrowing a leaf from the state governments.
“Ordinarily, what you should expect is that respect for our laws should be what state governments should be all about, but what they have done now is to show lack of respect for the law and their citizens because, ordinarily, it is in the best interest of not only the workers but also the management, that is, the government.
“It is so that whatever happens, the families of the people working with them are safe. For them not to have done that is sad and discomforting.”
The Director, Centre for Pension Rights Advocacy, Ivor Takor, urged state and local governments to comply fully with the regulations in the CPS.
He expressed worry that most states had yet to comply with the law.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters, Hon Darlington Nwokocha, said the lawmakers were reviewing the insurance laws which would enhance the sector’s performance and assist the implementation of the compulsory insurance laws.
The Director-General, National Pension Commission, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the commission was engaging states to ensure full compliance with the PRA.
She noted that it had continued to review the implementation of the scheme in the states.
Also, the Commissioner for Insurance, Mr Sunday Thomas, said the National Insurance Commission was seeking compliance on the compulsory insurance schemes.
Thomas stated that NAICOM had visited some of the state governors to solicit the support for compliance with insurance laws.
Also, PenCom, in a recent circular, ordered employers of labour to comply with the Group Life Insurance Policy as stipulated in the Pension Reform Act 2014.
PenCom also ordered employers to display a copy of the GLIP certificate in a conspicuous place within the premises before the end of July 31, 2021.
It stated this in a circular to all employers and employees titled ‘Re: Compliance with PRA 2014 on Group Life Insurance Policy for employees and display of insurance certificate for 2021’.
The commission said, “In accordance with the provisions of Section 4(5) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, every employer shall maintain a Group Life Insurance Policy in favour of all employees.
“The GLIP should be a minimum of three times the annual total emolument of the employees. Similarly, Section 5.5 of the revised guidelines on GLIP for employees provides that the employer shall display a copy of the GLIP certificate in a conspicuous place within its premises, for the information of the employees and as evidence of having taken such policy.
“Employers that have not displayed a copy of the GLIP certificate within their premises are advised to do so on or before 31 July, 2021. Failure to provide GLIP is a violation of Section 4(5) of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014.”
PenCom disclosed that only 15,418 organisations got its clearance to do the business of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government between January 4 and May 10.
It said the clearance was given to them for having pension accounts and life insurance cover for their employees.
According to the commission, the clearance enables them to do the business of the Federal Government for the 2021 financial year.
PenCom said companies that had no insurance cover for their workers would no longer be allowed to do any government business.
One In 100 Die By Suicide, WHO Alerts
The World Health Organisation (WHO), has said, suicide remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide and responsible for one in 100 deaths globally.
In its latest estimates entitled, “Suicide worldwide in 2019”, WHO noted that every year, more people die as a result of suicide than HIV, malaria or breast cancer or war and homicide.
The latest estimates noted that in 2019, more than 700 000 people died by suicide: one in every 100 deaths, prompting the WHO to produce new guidance to help countries improve suicide prevention and care.
The WHO guidance is to help the world reach the target of reducing the suicide rate by 1/3 by 2030.
Speaking on the new estimates, Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the world cannot and must not ignore suicide.
“Each one is a tragedy. Our attention to suicide prevention is even more important now, after many months of living with the Covid-19 pandemic, with many of the risk factors for suicide 6 job loss, financial stress and social isolation still very much present.”
He said the new guidance would provide a clear path for stepping up suicide prevention efforts.
“Among young people aged 15-29, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death after road injury, tuberculosis and interpersonal violence. The rates vary, between countries, regions, and between males and females.”
The report also explained that more than twice as many males die due to suicide as females (12.6 per 100 000 males compared with 5.4 per 100 000 females).
“Suicide rates among men are generally higher in high-income countries (16.5 per 100 000). For females, the highest suicide rates are found in lower-middle-income countries (7.1 per 100 000).
Suicide rates in the WHO African (11.2 per 100 000), European (10.5 per 100 000) and South-East Asia (10.2 per 100 000) regions were higher than the global average (9.0 per 100 000) in 2019. The lowest suicide rate was in the Eastern Mediterranean region (6.4 per 100 000).
Globally, the suicide rate is decreasing; in the Americas, it is going up. Suicide rates fell in the 20 years between 2000 and 2019, with the global rate decreasing by 36 per cent, with decreases ranging from 17 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean Region to 47 per cent in the European Region and 49 per cent in the Western Pacific.
“But in the Americas Region, rates increased by 17 per cent in the same time period. Although some countries have placed suicide prevention high on their agendas, too many countries remain uncommitted.
“Currently only 38 countries are known to have a national suicide prevention strategy.
“A significant acceleration in the reduction of suicides is needed to meet the SDG target of a one-third reduction in the global suicide rate by 2030.”
However, WHO has released comprehensive guidance for implementing its LIVE LIFE approach to suicide prevention. The four strategies of this approach are: limiting access to the means of suicide, such as highly hazardous pesticides and firearms; educating the media on responsible reporting of suicide; fostering socio-emotional life skills in adolescents; and early identification, assessment, management and follow-up of anyone affected by suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
WHO further recommended the banning of the most dangerous pesticides given that pesticide poisoning is estimated to cause 20 per cent of all suicides while national bans of acutely toxic, highly hazardous pesticides have shown to be cost-effective.
Other measures recommended by WHO include restricting access to firearms, reducing the size of medication packages and installing barriers at jump sites.
On responsible reporting by the media, the guide highlighted the role the media plays in relation to suicide.
“Media reports of suicide can lead to a rise in suicide due to imitation (or copycat suicides) – especially if the report is about a celebrity or describes the method of suicide.
“The new guide advises monitoring of the reporting of suicide and suggests that media counteract reports of suicide with stories of successful recovery from mental health challenges or suicidal thoughts. It also recommends working with social media companies to increase their awareness and improve their protocols for identifying and removing harmful content.”
WHO also noted that support for adolescence (10-19 years of age) was a critical period for acquiring socio-emotional skills, particularly since half of the mental health conditions appear before 14 years of age.
“The LIVE LIFE guidance encourages actions including mental health promotion and anti-bullying programmes, links to support services and clear protocols for people working in schools and universities when a suicide risk is identified.
“Early identification, assessment, management and follow-up apply to people who have attempted suicide or are perceived to be at risk. A previous suicide attempt is one of the most important risk factors for future suicide.
“Health-care workers should be trained in early identification, assessment, management and follow-up.
“Survivors’ groups of people bereaved by suicide can complement the support provided by health services. Crisis services should also be available to provide immediate support to individuals in acute distress.
The new guidance, which includes examples of suicide prevention interventions that have been implemented across the world, in countries such as Australia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, Sweden and the USA can be used by anyone who is interested in implementing suicide prevention activities, whether at the national or local level and in the governmental and non-governmental sectors alike.
On his part, suicide prevention expert at the World Health Organisation, Alexandra Fleischmann said, “While a comprehensive national suicide prevention strategy should be the ultimate goal for all governments, starting suicide prevention with LIVE LIFE interventions can save lives and prevent the heartbreak that follows for those left behind.”
Wike, Others Grace Prof Antonia Omehia’s Thanksgiving
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and other eminent personalities were among personalities that graced the thanksgiving ceremony in honour of Professor Antonia Celestine Omehia, yesterday.
The thanksgiving organised by former Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia was to mark the conferment of his wife, Professor Antonia with the rank of Professor of Library and Information Science by Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni.
Professor Antonia Omehia is a lecturer in the Library and Information Science Department of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rivers State.
Governor Wike, his deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Austin Opara, former Presidents, Nigeria Bar Association ( NBA) Onueze C.J Okocha (SAN), and Okey Wali (SAN) were among other dignitaries who attended the thanksgiving ceremony at Omehia’s residence in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Former Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia said his family decided to organise the thanksgiving to honour God for his wife’s unparalleled academic excellence and passion for scholarly research.
He acknowledged that it is not an easy feat to attain the rank of an academic professor. According to him, his family will remain eternally grateful to God for granting his wife the grace of academic excellence.
Former NBA President, Okocha, who spoke on behalf of Rivers’ elders, said Professor Antonia Omehia has indisputably distinguished herself in academics, because professors are scholars that are experts in their fields and teachers of the highest rank in the university.
He heaped praises on Sir Omehia for allowing his wife to soar in her academic pursuit, because most men often feel intimidated when their wives excel in life.
The legal luminary said when women excel in academics, they should be celebrated.
He commended Professor Antonia Omehia for making her husband and children proud by virtue of her unquestionable commitment to academic excellence.
”We are proud of you for honouring our brother.”
Eminent personalities that also attended the thanksgiving included: Chairman of Greater Port Harcourt Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Anabraba, former Minister of Transportation, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Senator (Dr) Bennett Birabi, Davies Ikanya among several others.
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